Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review: Learning to Swim (Hearts Out of Water #1)

Release Date: March 1, 2013
Author: Annie Cosby
Publisher: Write for You Publishing
Length: 242 pages
Source: Review Copy via NetGalley

"... a darkly romantic beginning to what promises to be an unusual contemporary YA fantasy series."
- Serena Chase, USA Today

When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.

Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?

As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.



Protagonist: Cora's family decides to spend their summer at Oyster beach, there Cora meets new people that change her life in significant ways, well, sort of. For most of the book Cora acts like an immature fourteen or fifteen year old rich brat and not the eighteen year old young woman she is. Honestly if she was only immature for a little bit, or even a good size portion of the book before developing into someone more mature I wouldn't have minded all that much. It's the fact that there are times when she feels like a very different and wise character that I got really frustrated with her because sooner or later she'd turn around and do something that she wouldn't have done a few seconds ago.

Romance: So while I'd say that the romance in this book was fairly well written, I'd only be half telling the truth because it took quite a bit for me to get on board with the romance. Ronan, is a great character, and while he does act a bit immature as well, usually during the times when Cora is acting mature, there are these times when you see just what a great character he is, but for quite a lot of the book I never felt a bond with the couple or really felt all that much chemistry between them, when they do finally start to put their feelings for each other first was when I started rooting for them, although I do have to say that there's still a part of me that just doesn't connect with it.

World-Building: So going into this story I was expecting this interesting paranormal romance full of magic and adventure, but sadly there isn't all that much magic in this book. It's there but not until pretty much the end of the book. I'm not sure if the next book will feature it more heavily or not, but I still felt disappointed that this book ended up feeling more like a contemporary novel with tales of the supernatural, rather than a novel chock full of paranormal creatures and adventure.

Predictability: This book was wildly predictable. Not everything was as simple to predict from the beginning, but after a little while there was foreshadowing that was laid on super thick. While I'm not necessarily upset but it's predictability, I did think that things would have been done a bit better. Although with how two-sided some of the characters in this book are, some things are still a bit unpredictable.

Ending: The end of this book is very bizarre. When things really start to heat up during the final climax and all of the paranormal stuff starts to look real, the book sort of just ends. It doesn't end in the way a typical book would, there's no plateaued end, no wrap up, and while there technically is a cliffhanger it's the most awkward one I've ever read. There's no pay off with it and it just felt like the book ended mid-conversation or mid-sentence.


So this book isn't necessarily bad, there was a lot that I enjoyed about it, but I couldn't find sympathy or a connection with the protagonist and when I did find some sort of connection with the romance it was too late for it to have all that much of an impact.


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